“Religious Education Challenge”, aired on ABC’s 7:30 Report last Friday April 15th, 2011.

FIRIS Parents tell their story about the discrimination they’ve experienced because of the Special Religious Instruction in Victoria.   ACCESS Ministries CEO, Evonne Paddison, denies that her volunteers are to blame and repeats the false claim that ACCESS is not doing missionary work in the schools. The case is now headed for VCAT – the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Parent Sophie Aitken believes the current model and it’s mode of application may be;

– Discrimination on the grounds of religious belief

– A breach of Education and Training laws

– A breach of the Victorian Charter of Human Rights

Lawyer Andrea Tsalamandris outlines reasons for taking the case to Victoria’s Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

The 7:30 Report has obtained emails from June 2007 over which an anonymous principal voices significant concern, that ACCESS Ministry is threatening his school if he enacted any changes to the say SRI was handled at the school.  The principal says that at his school 90% of the parents opt their children out of the class.  He further alleges that the predecessor of ACCESS ministries, CCES – The Council for Christian Education in Schools – alluded to making an example of his school. The Education Department told the principle to allow CCES to run it’s course.

Victorian Education Minister, Martin Dixon earlier offered his view on the obligation of schools;

If a trained RI person, who’s properly accredited approaches a school… and offers their services and says they would like to offer religious instruction at that school, the school is obliged to accept that offer.

© ABC 7:30 Report – Religious Education Challenge. Reporter James Bennett.